Nationwide Tour Touches Down in New Zealand


Nationwide TourCHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand -- The Nationwide Tour remains overseas this week for the HSBC New Zealand PGA Championship -- the third international event to open the 2007 season.
Last year, Jim Rutledge finished eagle-birdie and fired a final-round 64 to beat two players by one shot for his first career win outside the Canadian Tour.
As is normally the case on the Nationwide Tour, Rutledge is not back this season to defend his title (at 47, he is the second-oldest PGA Tour rookie in history).
A busy Golf Channel will have at least two hours of coverage of all four rounds.
The Nationwide Tour will then go on a one-month hiatus ahead of the Chitimacha Louisiana Open, which begins on March 22.
  • WON JOON 'BOOM BOOM' LEE -- You may not have heard of Won Joon 'Boom Boom' Lee but the golf fans Down Under have. The 21-year-old Korean-born Australian who turned professional in November won the 2006 New South Wales Amateur (match play), New South Wales Amateur medalist (stroke play) and New Zealand Amateur medalist. In addition, Lee was the 2006 Western Amateur 54-hole medalist in the States, firing a 61 to overcome a five-shot deficit (he lost in the first round of match play). He represented his country in last year's Eisenhower Cup, too. He's considered a crowd favorite given his ability to 'boom' the golf ball.
  • CRAIG PARRY -- The Australian was the first-round Jacob's Creek leader last week. A 20-time winner on the international stage (PGA TOUR, Australasian, European and Japan tours), including the 2002 WGC-NEC Invitational and 2004 Ford Championship at Doral, Parry has indicated he will concentrate his play on the Japan Golf Tour this year after spending the majority of the last 15 years in America. The HSBC will be his fourth Nationwide Tour start. His best finishes have come at the Jacob's Creek event -- a T5 this year and a T8 in 2004.
  • SCOTT STERLING -- The '94 LSU grad captured his first TOUR win on Sunday in the Jacob's Creek Open Championship in Australia. It was his 122nd Nationwide Tour start. The win, worth $108,000, was, of course, his largest check ever and significantly surpassed the $72,227 he earned as the leading money winner on the Tight Lies Tour last year. He made his first PGA TOUR start last year in the FedEx St. Jude Classic, finishing T38. He regularly played the Nationwide Tour in 2002-05.
  • 199 AND HOLDING.... -- We'll have to wait at least one more week for a Nationwide Tour player to capture the Tour's 200th PGA TOUR win. With 2007 wins on the PGA TOUR by Paul Goydos, Charley Hoffman and Aaron Baddeley, the Nationwide Tour is holding steady at 199 TOUR wins.
  • ALSO ON HOLD -- Ben Bates will have to wait another week to surpass Steve Haskins as the Nationwide Tour all-time leader in cuts made. He and Haskin have 192. Bates missed the cut in last week's Jacob's Creek Open Championship in Australia. He is entered this week in New Zealand.
  • DID YOU KNOW? No one has successfully defended a Nationwide Tour event in its 18-year history.
    Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - HSBC New Zealand PGA Championship
  • Golf Channel Airtimes